Frazzled previews the Ulster Senior Club Quarter Final clash between Scotstown and Slaughtneil and he thinks the value lies with then Monaghan champions.
It's a huge weekend in the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship, with 4 quarter final matches taking place on Sunday. Crossmaglen, Kilcoo and to a lesser extent Naomh Conaill will all start as red hot favourites for their respective clashes, but it is a different matter in the last quarter final, where despite being the reigning champions, Slaughtneil will start as only marginal favourites against Monaghan champions Scotstown.
The opening paragraph might suggest that we think Slaughtneil should be shorter in the betting, but this is a match where their reign could come to an end at the very first hurdle. They safely negotiated the Derry championship, but an away game in Clones is far from the easiest task they could have wished for. They also possess a number of dual players who were involved in a heartbreaking loss to Cushendall in the Ulster Club hurling final last Sunday and while they rebounded from a rather less dramatic loss in hurling last year, the effort that was put into last week's encounter, together with the manner of the defeat will test the managerial and motivational expertise of Mickey Moran and John Joe Kearney. In addition there are a few other factors that might play against them;
- Cormac O'Doherty is a major injury concern at the time of writing.
- The weather looks to be set fair for Sunday and Slaughtneil are a team that thrive on winning relatively low scoring encounters. This will not be easy on the Clones pitch if conditions are placid, even on the winter turf.
Scotstown look to have everything in their favour here. They are coming off a very impressive County Championship campaign, where they were rarely threatened and hammered Monaghan Harps in the final by 9 points. They are also much more experienced now than the side who lost narrowly to Ballinderry two years ago, in a game that they dominated and should have closed out.
In addition Scotstown have no injury concerns ahead of this weekend and with players like Darren and Kieran Hughes, mixed with ex-county players such as Donal Morgan, James Turley, Mark Duffy and the towering Francis Caulfield in midfield, they have plenty of county level talent to call on.
The Hughes brothers are two of the most influential players for Monaghan and the team also includes top class forwards such as Shane Carey, who will surely make more of an impact for the county team next year and the top class prospect Conor McCarthy. McCarthy was a member of the Monaghan side that won the Ulster minor title in 2013 and he was singled out on The Sunday Game for his performance in the semi final defeat to Mayo. He is an exceptional talent that will likely take his place among the starting forwards for the senior team next year and he will be extremely difficulty to contain if conditions are favourable.
If they can keep their heads and play to their potential, Scotstown are more than capable of making a big run at this Ulster title and the 13/10 with Boylesports is worth taking with home advantage and a freshness and hunger that may not be matched by the Derry men.
2 points win Scotstown to beat Slaughtneil at 13/10 with Boylesports